Camp Lejeune, a United States Marine Corps base located in North Carolina, has a dark, tainted history of water contamination. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with toxic chemicals, causing widespread health problems for veterans, their families, and civilians who lived and worked at the base.
One of the lesser-known yet significant health issues arising from the water contamination is dental problems.
This article will delve into the history of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, the link between the contaminated water and dental issues, and the legal rights of those affected by the contamination.
The History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune was established in 1941 and is the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast of the United States. The base covers approximately 246 square miles and is home to over 170,000 military personnel, their families, and civilian employees. Throughout its history, Camp Lejeune has been a crucial training facility for the Marine Corps, preparing Marines for deployment in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Between the 1950s and the 1980s, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other harmful chemicals. The primary sources of the contamination were leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and waste disposal sites on the base. The chemicals seeped into the groundwater, contaminating the wells that supplied drinking water to the base. The contaminated water was used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other daily activities, exposing thousands of people to the toxic chemicals.
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune was first discovered in the early 1980s. However, it took several years for the Marine Corps to acknowledge the problem and take action to clean up the contaminated water supply. In 1987, the base shut down the most contaminated wells, but by then, the damage had already been done. The toxic chemicals had been in the water supply for decades, affecting the health of countless individuals who lived and worked at the base.
The Link Between Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and Dental Issues
The contaminated water at Camp Lejeune contained a variety of harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and benzene. These chemicals are known to have adverse health effects, including damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. In addition, exposure to these chemicals has been linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
While the majority of research on the health effects of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination has focused on cancer and other severe illnesses, there is also evidence linking the contaminated water to dental issues. Some of the chemicals found in the water, such as TCE and PCE, are known to cause damage to the teeth and gums. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to a variety of dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
One study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found that children who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune had a higher prevalence of dental issues than a comparison group of children who were not exposed. The study found that the exposed children had a higher rate of cavities, tooth extractions, and other dental problems.
Another study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found that exposure to TCE and PCE was associated with an increased risk of developing Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that affects the salivary glands and can cause dry mouth, tooth decay, and gum disease. The study found that individuals who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were more likely to develop Sjögren’s syndrome than those who were not exposed.
These studies suggest that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may have caused long-lasting dental problems for many individuals who lived and worked at the base. The dental issues resulting from the water contamination can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, causing pain, discomfort, and difficulty eating and speaking.
Is health care provided for families at Camp LeJeune?
Indeed, relatives residing at Camp LeJeune between August 1953 and December 1987 might qualify for VA health care services for dental decay and other health issues resulting from the consumption of polluted water at Camp LeJeune.
Due to the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, family members, along with veterans, can now file lawsuits against the government for compensation. Prior to this, countless civilian Camp LeJeune families had no recourse!
Legal Rights for Those Affected by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The United States government has acknowledged the widespread health problems caused by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. In 2012, Congress passed the Janey Ensminger Act, which provides health care benefits to veterans and their families who were affected by the contaminated water. The act covers the treatment of 15 specific illnesses and conditions, including several types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
However, the Janey Ensminger Act does not specifically cover dental issues resulting from the water contamination. This means that individuals who have experienced dental problems due to the contaminated water may not be eligible for compensation or benefits under the act.
Despite this limitation, individuals who have suffered dental issues as a result of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune may still have legal options. They may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the United States government, seeking compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. In some cases, individuals may also be able to pursue a claim through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), seeking disability benefits for their dental issues.
If you or a loved one has suffered dental problems as a result of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. An attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process and advocate for the compensation and benefits you deserve.
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune is a tragic chapter in the history of the United States Marine Corps. Thousands of individuals who lived and worked at the base were exposed to toxic chemicals, leading to a wide range of health problems, including dental issues. While the government has taken steps to provide health care benefits to those affected by the contamination, many individuals who have suffered dental problems may still be struggling to obtain the compensation and benefits they need.
If you have experienced dental issues as a result of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. They can help you understand your rights and options and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.